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PLAYER PREVIEWS: Running through our expectations for Sunderland’s goalkeepers and defenders

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With Sunderland’s squad for the season now in place, we take a look at each player and what we expect each of them to achieve over the coming weeks and months.

1. Jon McLaughlin

The former Burton Albion goalkeeper arrived on a free transfer this summer on the back of winning the player of the year award at Hearts - and was named in the SPL team of the year.

It would be fair to say our expectations of him are high, and we desperately need him to be the safe pair of hands that we haven’t had since Jordan Pickford walked out of the door.

Expect him to be a reliable number one in the mould of Darren Ward, and if he does half as well as the aforementioned Welshman did for us, he’ll be alright.

Sunderland AFC via Getty images.

25. Robbin Ruiter

Suprisingly, he’s still here.

Although he was the best of a bad bunch last year, he was still only one minute away from making a huge mistake. If McLaughlin gets injured and has to spend a spell out of the side, I have serious worries about him still.

Let’s hope he doesn’t get too close to the first team picture this year.

Sunderland v Reading - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images,

32. Max Stryjek

It’s a big season for the young Polish stopper.

Now aged 22 - an age at which he’s probably itching to be playing week in, week out - he’s still not played regular first team football and is still a relative unknown even to us.

If he doesn’t leave on loan it’s entirely possible that he’ll get some first-team experience playing in the Checkatrade Trophy - and a successful season for Stryjek would surely see him eventually move into the deputy role ahead of Ruiter.


2. Adam Matthews

He’s a funny one is Matthews - he’s been here for what feels like absolutely ages, but only really gained playing time last year - and even then he was sometimes made to watch from the sidelines as the now departed Billy Jones took up the full back positions.

The Welshman should be looking to claim the position for himself this term and is comfortably one of the better full backs in this league.

Queens Park Rangers v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images

3. Bryan Oviedo

Well...

It all depends if he’s still here come the end of August, doesnt isn’t it? He seemed likely to be one of the first players out of the door this summer, but quite clearly his wages make him an unattractive proposition to prospective buyers.

Jack Ross has talked up his attitude in recent days and has handed him the number three shirt this term. If he stays, he’ll at the very least come in handy - but it’s a big if.

Queens Park Rangers v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images

5. Glenn Loovens

I heard him described this week as having the looks of Adam Lallana - if he’d came to Wearside via Gaza. He’s the battle hardened brick-shit house we need for this league.

Captaining Sheffield Wednesday as recently as last season, we’d expect him to form the nucleus of our defence and show the grit and nous that a 34-year brute of a centre half should at this level. I think he’ll turn out to be another astute free transfer.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

6. Alim Ozturk

The big Turk had an indifferent pre-season. He’s carrying a little bit of timber and those that have seen him play seem to think he’s got a mistake or two in him, but we can’t judge his performances in pre-season too harshly - they are, after all, non-competitive games.

He comes with decent pedigree though having captained Hearts, and is still young, so he could turn out to be a shrewd free transfer come the end of the season.


12. Tom Flanagan

Of all the players we’ve brought in poor little Tom probably had the least amount of fan fare, but he’s impressed those of us that have seen the Lads over the summer with his tidy displays in a variety of different positions.

He can play anywhere across the back four, and filled in excellently at central midfield for a short time at Middlesbrough. Once he’s back fit, he’ll be a fantastic member of the squad to have and should go on to emulate the likes of Darren Williams - dependable and full of effort.


15. Jack Baldwin

He’s got an excellent pedigree at this level and is known for being a centre half that is good with the ball at his feet - which is exactly what Jack Ross will be wanting his defenders to do as he looks to build attacks from the back.

Baldwin was the third centre half we brought in over the summer that has previously captained his team. He should do well and is one of the best defenders in this league. The fierce competition for places will keep him on his toes too.


16. Reece James

It’s difficult to judge Reece James since he’s been injured for most of pre-season, and with Bryan Oviedo still on our books and Adam Matthews able to cover at left back, the former Manchester United left-back could end up struggling for game time by the time he gets back fit.

He won the league with Wigan last season though, so what it takes to get out of this division will be fresh in his memory - and that experience could come in handy in the dressing room.

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18. Donald Love

It’s a big season for the lovable little rogue. He’s threatened to nail down a place in the team a few times over his two years at the club, but never seems to fully convince.

Since Adam Matthews - his direct competition for a place - has been handed the number two shirt on Thursday by Jack Ross, you have to wonder just exactly where Donald’s Sunderland career is at.

safc.com

33. Denver Hume

Danny Collins singled out Denver Hume as one of players that impressed in our pre-season friendly against his side Grimsby Town - and the former Sunderland player of the year knows a thing or to about playing left back.

If Oviedo sticks around and Reece James stays fit he could struggle for game time, but if Oviedo goes and James continues to suffer through injury, it could be a huge season for the Academy product. I wouldn’t bet against him being one of our breakthroughs this term.

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40. Brandon Taylor

It’s going to be difficult for the 19-year-old to even get a look in this year.

We’ve invested heavily in central defenders and baring an injury crisis, I can’t see him making an appearance - however, he should have an opportunity to impress in the Carabao Cup or the Checkatrade Trophy.

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